N’Golo Kante produced one of the great, all-action midfield displays as he covered every blade of grass in Chelsea’s Champions League win over Atletico Madrid.
It was an absolutely vintage Kante display as he pressed, sprinted forward, read the game, was constantly available and did not let Atletico’s midfielders settle.
Diego Simeone must have wondered if there were three of Chelsea’s No 7 out there, as Kante never stopped running from the first minute until the final whistle.
Hakim Ziyech and Emerson scored the goals in Chelsea’s 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge (which settled the last-16 tie 3-0 on aggregate). But Kante was undoubtedly the game’s man of the match.
Even four minutes into injury time of a game where he’d run his heart out, Kante was the instigator of Chelsea’s final goal.
He won the ball back and fed Christian Pulisic as Chelsea sprung a counterattack. Pulisic eventually found Emerson but – by the time Emerson was through on goal – Kante had rather unbelievably sprinted past Pulisic and was the furthest Chelsea player forward.
It was fantastic for Chelsea fans to see the 29-year-old back to his very best. Injuries and a couple of Chelsea manager’s moving his position has impacted Kante’s consistency in recent seasons.
However this display for Thomas Tuchel’s revived Blues was a reminder that Kante has lost absolutely nothing when he’s fully fit and in the midfield engine room. The German manager is now unbeaten in his first 13 games in charge of the club.
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The France World Cup winner racked up a remarkable 13 ball recoveries – the most of any player on the night – two interceptions and had a hand in both goals. But it was Kante’s thankless closing down that impressed more than anything.
Let it be known: N’Golo Kante is back. And he appears to be playing alongside several identical versions of himself.